Thu, October 02, 2008
Sci-Tech > Science

Space exploration group in the works

2008-10-02 10:44:34 GMT2008-10-02 18:44:34 (Beijing Time) China Daily

A technician helps the astronauts out of the re-entry capsule of China's Shenzhou VII spaceship after it landed by parachute in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, September 28, 2008. [Xinhua]

China will set up the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization at the end of the year as part of a major effort to promote joint space exploration, a top space administrator has said.

Sun Laiyan, chief of the China National Space Administration, said the organization will focus on satellite applications and training.

Sun, flush from the success of the country's first space walk on Sept 27, made the remarks at the ongoing 59th International Astronautical Congress in Glasgow, Scotland, on Tuesday.

Astronauts aboard the Shenzhou VII carried out a brief space walk during a 68-hour flight.

The Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) was first proposed by China, Thailand and Pakistan in early 1992.

The organization, already joined by nine countries - Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand and Turkey - welcomes the participation of more nations, Sun said.

According to the Convention of the APSCO, signed by these nine countries, the organization aims to promote multilateral cooperation in space science and technology and regional economic and social development among Asia-Pacific nations.

Since space projects require huge financial input and research work, Sun appealed to countries to work together on the development of space resources.

"China is willing to conduct international space cooperation on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and common development," Sun said.

China and Brazil have launched three Sino-Brazilian resources monitoring satellites since 1999 and plan to launch two more under the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite program.

In March, China signed an agreement with Russia on a Mars exploration initiative.

The satellite is due to be launched next year, said the China administrator.

China is currently building two major space systems: a high-resolution earth observation system consisting of satellites, airships in the stratosphere, spacecraft and receiving stations on the ground, and a Beidou (satellite) Navigation System that will initially be developed for regional coverage before going global.

Sun said China plans to develop a new generation of carrier rocket by 2013 and to research and develop spacecraft docking technologies.

Elements of a space station will be in orbit by 2011 before a robotic landing is attempted on the Moon two years later.

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